Pakistan weighs options if India refuses joint probe into missile fiasco

Official warns that misunderstanding between nuclear-armed neighbours could have ‘disastrous consequences’

Kamran Yousaf March 14, 2022
People work around the remains of a missile fired into Pakistan from India, near Mian Channu, Pakistan, March 9, 2022. PHOTO: REUTERS


Pakistan is contemplating different options in case India refuses to agree on a joint probe into a missile fiasco that could have triggered an accidental war between the two nuclear-armed neighbours.

“We are still waiting for the Indian response,” a senior Pakistani official told The Express Tribune on Monday when approached to confirm if New Delhi had responded to Pakistan’s demand.

Islamabad has rejected India’s “simplistic” explanation over “accidental” firing of a missile into Pakistan and sought a joint probe to establish the facts surrounding the incident. New Delhi admitted that a missile fired accidentally due to routine maintenance and ordered a court of inquiry.

But Islamabad termed the unilateral inquiry insufficient while seeking answers to a list of questions shared with New Delhi.

Although no formal response has been received yet by Pakistan, indications are that India is highly unlikely to accept the joint probe. Some Indian news reports quoting anonymous officials as saying that a joint probe was not possible and Pakistan should move forward as “good neighbour”.


But Pakistani officials say this is not an ordinary issue to be brushed aside like that. “We are looking at various options in case India refuses to agree on a joint probe,” the official added, though he did not divulge those options.

The official said Pakistan has been in touch with relevant countries and has already briefed the permanent members of the UN Security Council about the gravity of the situation.

In a telephonic conversation, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Tuesday briefed German counterpart Annalena Baerbock regarding violation of Pakistan’s airspace by an Indian missile on March 9.

The foreign minister said that India had regretted what it called “accidental” firing of the missile; however, such a serious matter could not be addressed with the simplistic explanation proffered by the Indian authorities.

He added that Pakistan had called for a joint probe in the incident and was also calling upon the international community to take serious notice of this incident of grave nature in a nuclearised environment and play its due role in upholding and promoting strategic stability in the region.

Foreign Minister Annalena appreciated Qureshi for sharing perspective on bilateral and regional issues and said that she looked forward to continue these discussions.

The official sources conceded that the muted response received from the international community particularly from the powerful western states over the Indian mistake could have threatened regional security.

Many commentators both in India as well as in the US believe that had such a mistake been committed by Pakistan the reaction from the international community would have certainly been different.

Also read: China urges Pakistan, India to launch probe into airspace violation incident

But it is evident that these countries, which are otherwise very vocal about safety and security of strategic and nuclear weapons, are simply playing down the incident.

Nevertheless, the official said Pakistan would continue its efforts as it is planning to take the issue to the United Nations.

“This issue cannot be taken lightly. Pakistan and India are both nuclear powers and any misunderstanding could have disastrous consequences for the region and beyond,” the official cautioned.

Many people were surprised by Pakistan’s mature response to the firing of an Indian missile despite strained relationship between the two countries.

One possible reason for this mature handling of the issue is attributed to the better channels of communication between the two militaries.

Although two neighbours have no structured dialogue process, the defence establishments maintain contact with each other through relevant official channels.

It was because of this reason that despite tense ties, the ceasefire along the Line of Control (LoC) has been holding since February 2020 when the two countries renewed their commitment to the 2003 truce understanding.


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